↓ Archives ↓

Posts Tagged → government

Jon Gruber, AG Kane, Obama…we never thought they could actually get worse

Jon Gruber is the fast talking salesman of ObamaCare.

He made millions of dollars from state and federal government payments (that is taxpayer money) to travel America, selling a government-only healthcare system.  Gruber’s credibility has suffered mightily as video after video has surfaced of him mocking American voters and taxpayers as “too stupid” to understand how tricky the Obama administration is being while selling ObamaCare.

Obama disavowed ever meeting Gruber, or knowing anything about him, despite videos of Obama mentioning Gruber by name as a source of ideas for ObamaCare.  Are any of us surprised at yet more conniving lies from Obama?

Obama intended for ObamaCare to be government-run.  He never intended for you to actually “keep your doctor,” or “keep your healthcare plan,” as he originally promised, or lied for political gain.

Obama has zero credibility, for yet one more reason.

Here in Pennsylvania, Attorney General Kathleen Kane now has hired an attorney to defend her from charges of having purposefully leaked politically sensitive details from a secret grand jury investigation.

This isn’t the first time Kane has had to hire an attorney to represent her.  And she has even hired an attorney to represent her threat to sue the Philadelphia Inquirer for having the guts to report the factual truth about her behavior in the AG’s office.

Kathleen Kane is a catastrophe.  She uses the AG’s office for purely political purposes.  And for her own personal purposes: Refusing to indict or even really investigate PLCB officials who clearly broke the law served her family’s interest in not upsetting the PLCB, with which Kane Trucking has huge warehousing and logistics contracts.  Clearly a conflict-of-interest problem there, but don’t hold your breath waiting for the liberal, partisan Patriot News to write about it.

Just when we thought these folks had been served notice by the taxpayers and voters that their shenanigans aren’t wanted, Obama and Kane just keep on getting defiantly worse and worse.

Who would’ve thought that was possible?

America, you get what you pay for.  If you pay zero to get zero, you end up with zero, you end up with catastrophically bad government officials.

Despite digital technology advances, actual humans are necessary

Digital technology is amazing, no doubt about it.

Yes, it enables all kinds of speed in research and communications.

But the internet has also inspired a “digital wall” response to basic inquiries that used to be handled by people answering phones.  You cannot just pick up a phone and ask someone a question, any longer.  Instead, you must navigate a maze of circular questions and answers and phone tree options, long before you get to hit the star key or number one and talk to a person.

eBay is the prime example of the digital wall.  You cannot get real customer service at eBay.  eBay’s digital artificial intelligence is supposed to satisfactorily respond to all customer issues, but it doesn’t.  It is a failure.

One online commenter says “It is easier to talk with the Pope than to actually speak with a person at eBay,” a sad but true fact that I myself have learned the hard way.

Here in Pennsylvania, the Tom Ridge Revolution for responsive government is looong over.

Remember how back in the 1990s, Governor Tom Ridge opened up Pennsylvania state government with a crowbar and a box of dynamite, and got the scurrying inhabitants of the many faceless concrete government buildings in downtown Harrisburg to actually view taxpayers as “customers”?

Maybe you don’t recall that time, but it was refreshing.  Suddenly, state workers at most agencies were required to actually answer the calls of the taxpayers they serve, and to act professionally, and to help resolve problems.

PennDOT was at that time a notoriously labyrinthine experience, kind of like the Vatican, one might guess, in that if a taxpayer was fortunate enough to find an IN door, they might spend a day shambling down shuttered halls with closed doors with jargon printed on them, searching yet more for the answer to their government-inspired problem.

The workers there at that time could not have cared less for serving the public, and no one took any initiative to make them serve the public, until the Ridge Administration arrived.

Then, PennDOT was required to post phone numbers, email addresses, have customer service representatives on call, so that no citizen had to waste their time trying to make sense of the bureaucratic maze while to trying to meet some official mandate.

After all, if the government is going to require something, then the government absolutely must provide the means to achieve that.

Well, now PennDOT is back to its bad old ways.  The foolish young punks running the disastrous Corbett Administration into the ground at Mach 4 wouldn’t know a damned thing about customer service or taxpayers, for that matter.  PennDOT has been allowed to crawl back under a heavy cloak of secrecy and impenetrable darkness.  Go ahead, call PennDOT.  Try to reach a human being through their main portal:

“Call 1-800-932-4600 (from within PA) or 717-412-5300 (from out of state). You can also send an email through our Driver and Vehicle Services Customer Call Center, or write to the following address:

Riverfront Office Center (Driver and Vehicle Services)
1101 South Front Street
Harrisburg, PA 17104-2516
1-800-932-4600

Oh, you will hear a human voice,  which right off the bat asks you that if you want to continue in English, “Press One.”  Imagine my surprise when I just held the line, did not press one, and was shuttled off into yet another maze of foreign languages, as if just wanting to encounter my own government in our native language was something we should have to ask for.

Anyhow, the phone options in English are another maze of options and circular loops.  One answer gives the locations of  service centers, but saves providing you with the hours for each one until the very end, as if you might actually recall which service center was “one,” “two,” or “three.”

This is the very essence of Bad Government.

Government absolutely must be responsive, open, transparent, or it is illegitimate.  If it cannot serve its citizens and taxpayers, then government has failed.  Once government has failed, it cannot hold citizens to a higher standard.

Governor-elect Tom Wolf faces a Republican legislature, which is not likely to go along with his tax-and-spend approach to government.

Well, here is an opportunity that is guaranteed to make Wolf a hero among all citizens: Force government to open up again; get our taxpayer-funded bureaucrats to be responsive, or get out.  No more digital walls for the people who pay the bills.

And maybe Wolf can talk to the owners of eBay, and persuade them to provide real customer service, too.

A win for the little guy

Government’s role is to serve the people.  America is a people with a government, not a government with a people.  The people – their needs, their interests, their rights – come first in all things.  Our Constitution prohibits government behavior that is arbitrary, capricious, abusive, or uncompensated taking of private property, among others.

Any American who loses sight of these limitations has fallen into the easy trap of promoting government over the people.  People in both main political parties fall into this trap, because both main parties have largely lost touch with the US Constitution (and the Pennsylvania Constitution) and its daily meaning for American citizens.

Last night the Pennsylvania state senate passed HB 1565, which amended through law a procedural environmental rule issued in the last days of the former Governor Ed Rendell administration, in 2010. The rule created 150-foot buffers along streams designated High Quality and Exceptional Value, and removed that buffer land from nearly all uses.  No compensation to the landowner was provided.  Allowing the landowner to claim a charitable donation for public benefit was not allowed.  Higher building density on the balance of the property was not allowed. The buffer land was simply taken by government fiat, by administrative dictate, totally at odds with the way American government is supposed to work.

And the appeal process afforded to landowners under the rule was onerous, extremely expensive, and lengthy.  It was not real due process, but rather a series of high hurdles designed to chase away landowners from their property rights.  Everything about this rule was designed to make the government’s job as easy as possible, and the private property owner’s rights and abilities as watered down as possible.

The 150-foot buffer rule represented the worst sort of government, because it did not serve the people, it quite simply took from the people.  The 150-foot buffer rule was blunt force trauma in the name of environmental quality, which can easily be achieved to the same level myriad other ways.  The rule was the easy way out, and it represented a throwback to the old days of the environmental movement and environmental quality management when big government, top-down, command-and-control dictates were standard fare for arresting environmental degradation.

That approach made sense when polluted American rivers were catching fire, nearly fifty years ago.  Today, a scalpel and set of screwdrivers can achieve the environmental goal much better, and fairly.  Supporters of the rule claimed that voting for HB 1565 was voting against environmental quality, which made no sense.  Environmental quality along HQ and EV stream corridors could have easily been achieved with a similar, but innately fairer, 150-foot buffer rule.  It saddens me that my fellow Americans could not see that simple fact, and instead sought to stay with a deeply flawed government process until the bitter end.

I know the people who both created and then championed the rule.  Some of them are friends and acquaintances of mine.  Their motives and intentions were good.  I won’t say that they are bad people.  Yes, they are mostly Democrats, but there were also plenty of Republicans involved in designing it and defending it, including former high level Republican government appointees.

Rather, this rule was a prime example of how simply out of touch many government decision makers have become with what American government is supposed to be, and it adds fuel to my own quest to help reintroduce the US and Pennsylvania constitutions back into policy discussions and government decision making so that we don’t have more HB 1565 moments in the future.

 

Two private property rights bills before PA legislature

Pennsylvania private property rights are under the gun right now.

HB1565 would provide a small fix to a patently unconstitutional regulation issued by PA DEP four years ago. That regulation takes 150 feet of buffer land from property owners adjoining Exceptional Value and High Quality streams.  Pretty much nothing can be done inside that buffer.  No compensation is paid, no tax write-offs are allowed, no charitable contributions are allowed or facilitated under this horrendous rule.

Smart Growth tools have long called for rewarding land owners who give up usage of private land for environmental purposes. Increased building density on the non-buffer land is a big reward and an incentive for landowners to contribute protected land to the greater good.

But the current regulation is not focused on working with landowners. Rather, it treats landowners like a piggy bank, which can be robbed whenever needed.

Protecting the environment is easy to do. Old fashioned top-down, command and control, big government, one size fits all regulations like the 150-foot buffer rule don’t protect the environment any better than carefully tailored rules. It’s not like this is a choice between environmental protection or none at all.

So encourage your state senator to vote for HB1565.

The other issue is SB76, which will provide relief to property owners who are being taxed out of their homes by teachers unions. Government school taxes account for about 80% of the annual property taxes paid, so dealing with government pensions and government unions bargaining positions should help alleviate the pressure on home owners and farmers.

Encourage your state representative to support SB76, which will lower private property taxes and reshape the way taxes are allocated.

Private property is supposed to be sacrosanct. I’d suggest anyone supporting the 150-foot buffer rule simply give up their front lawn to the neighborhood as a public play area. Put your money where your mouth is, or quit demanding that other people’s money get spent in ways you think are superior than the owner would spend it.

People ask me why

For some people, politics and political activism are their bread and butter.  Politics pays their bills.  With the right clients, they can make millions of dollars out of politics as a business model.

For me, politics is about personal liberty, freedom, opportunity and many other inspiring principles behind the founding of America.  It is also about the little freedoms we have that emanate from the bigger ideas:  The freedom to drive or walk somewhere without having to prove that you belong there, the freedom to choose where to live, the ability to select from a wide assembly of fresh food, to name a few popular ones.

Call it an innate sense of justice and right and wrong, which family and friends have said I’ve had since I was a little kid, or call it a lack of patience, an inability to watch, participate in, listen to, or tolerate BS/fluff/empty slogans/lies/self-interest, whatever it is that motivates me, I am passionate about good government.

Good government has been a passion of mine since I was a teenager, when I first got involved in political campaigns.  Back then, I was horrified at the way abortion-on-demand was changing our culture, I was against gun control, and nuclear missiles scared me.  Later on, watching police beat non-violent pro-democracy marchers in South Africa motivated me to put my voice behind change there (note that now the monumentally corrupt and un-just African National Congress government there is hardly better than the overtly racist apartheid government it replaced).  Age, paying taxes, and work experience have a way of shaping political views for normal people, and I was no exception.

So here I am, living a life that has meaning for me, trying to shape Pennsylvania and American politics in ways I believe are healthy, necessary, and just.  The citizens and taxpayers who are supposed to be served well by their government (of the people, by the people, for the people) are not being well served today.  This is why I am involved in politics.  That is why I will not go away, at least not until things are fixed to my satisfaction.

When the government just takes your land

About four years ago, Pennsylvania state government created a new regulation setting aside 150-foot buffers on waterways classified as High Quality and Exceptional Value.

This means that 150 feet from the edge of the waterway up into the private property, it’s designated as off-limits to most types of disturbances.

The purpose was to protect these waterways from the effects of development.

The end result is an obviously uncompensated taking of private property by the government. When the government takes a tape measure and marks off your own private land and says you can’t do anything with this huge area, or a road is going through, you’re simply taken advantage of. You’re robbed. It’s Un-American.  It’s unconstitutional.

Pennsylvania is a great state. I love living here. It’s saddening to see such top-down, command and control, clunky, one-size-fits-all regulations in this day and age. We can do so much better than this approach.

To start, create incentives for landowners to go along. Give tax credits and write-offs for land taken by government.

Do we all want clean air, soil, and water? Sure. Breathing, eating, and drinking clean air, food, and water are necessary to surviving. But that’s not the question.

The question is HOW we pursue those goals.

Requiring American citizens to simply give up their investments, with no compensation, creates losers in a system that was originally designed to make everyone a winner.

Instead of pitting government against the citizens, we need policies and laws that help and serve citizens, that are fair to citizens. That is by definition good government.

This current 150-foot buffer regulation is by definition bad government.

What Would Nixon Do, or Do Americans really want to recover from this?

Obama’s “re-set” with Russia empowered Putin to become Stalin II. Russia is expanding un-checked in all directions as it re-creates the totalitarian Soviet Union, sacrificing airliners full of civilians along the way, with impunity.

Obama’s apology tour in the Middle East empowered Muslim imperialists to go to war against everyone, including the very European nations that have increasingly hosted them.

The Middle East is breaking apart everywhere and along every ideological fault line possible.  The West’s sole outpost there, Israel, is surrounded by enemies, desperately conducting a non-war of non-defense, under circumstances where the World War II Allies carpet bombed and incinerated hundreds of thousands of their enemies in a single day, in battles fought day after day.

At home, Obama illegally trucks in hundreds of thousands of sick, diseased, poor illegal aliens to help bolster his political party, in economically depressed areas already loaded with broken communities.

If Richard Nixon resigned because of a failed nonviolent office break-in to get psychological files on an American traitor, then what should Obama do?

What will the Republican Party do to protect America from its enemies, foreign and domestic?

Is anyone paying attention?  Do more than a handful of Americans really give a damn what happens to America and its representative government of checks and balances?

Do Americans want to recover to the great nation we were before, or are they satisfied to watch Western Civilization crumble around them, come what may?

Good move by Gov. Corbett

If I hear one more false accusation that Tom Corbett is short changing government schools, I am gonna buttonhole that next person who says it.  It is not true that government school funding was or has been cut by the Corbett administration.  Like so many things that former governor Ed Rendell had done, those previous annual education budgets were temporarily bolstered by one-time FEDERAL money.  That funding was never intended to be continuous, and if it is not continuous, then it is in Barack Obama’s hands, not some governor who has zero control over federal spending.

Whatever your beef with Tom Corbett may be, and Lord knows, people have legitimate beefs with him, he is not responsible for “cutting education funding.” That is a lie.

Today, Corbett did the right thing by signing the legislature’s proposed budget, but using his line-item veto power to exclude the state legislature’s hoggish claim to some $72 million taxpayer dollars.  I have seen the state legislature hog over $100 million, and even higher, for their pet projects that the careerist leaders and their “pets” use to spend on projects to buy votes and get re-elected.

Corbett is angling for the legislature to return and fix the state pension crisis.

Good move, Tom Corbett.

America, the only country with real citizen independence from government

IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776.

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.–Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.
He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.
He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.
He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:
For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences
For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:
For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.
He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our Brittish brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.


The 56 signatures on the Declaration appear in the positions indicated:

Column 1
Georgia:
Button Gwinnett
Lyman Hall
George Walton

Column 2
North Carolina:
William Hooper
Joseph Hewes
John Penn
South Carolina:
Edward Rutledge
Thomas Heyward, Jr.
Thomas Lynch, Jr.
Arthur Middleton

Column 3
Massachusetts:
John Hancock
Maryland:
Samuel Chase
William Paca
Thomas Stone
Charles Carroll of Carrollton
Virginia:
George Wythe
Richard Henry Lee
Thomas Jefferson
Benjamin Harrison
Thomas Nelson, Jr.
Francis Lightfoot Lee
Carter Braxton

Column 4
Pennsylvania:
Robert Morris
Benjamin Rush
Benjamin Franklin
John Morton
George Clymer
James Smith
George Taylor
James Wilson
George Ross
Delaware:
Caesar Rodney
George Read
Thomas McKean

Column 5
New York:
William Floyd
Philip Livingston
Francis Lewis
Lewis Morris
New Jersey:
Richard Stockton
John Witherspoon
Francis Hopkinson
John Hart
Abraham Clark

Column 6
New Hampshire:
Josiah Bartlett
William Whipple
Massachusetts:
Samuel Adams
John Adams
Robert Treat Paine
Elbridge Gerry
Rhode Island:
Stephen Hopkins
William Ellery
Connecticut:
Roger Sherman
Samuel Huntington
William Williams
Oliver Wolcott
New Hampshire:
Matthew Thornton

BLM giving open land a black eye

The Bureau of Land Management was established as a temporary holding entity, dealing more with water management than common natural resources and the plants and animals living on the land under its care.

Now, BLM has become the poster child of Big Government Gone Wild, using armed force and the threat of lethal force, let alone more prosaic forms of terrifying government coercion, to achieve dubious policy goals.  Many of these policy goals grate on the public, who perceive them as being at best ancillary to BLM’s mission, if not at odds with the multiple-use land management models the agency is supposed to implement.

Citizens, who own their American government, chafe at official signs that say “No Trespassing – BLM Property,” as though the very taxpayers underwriting BLM are alien invaders upon that government-managed ground.

Job #1 would be to actually communicate with the citizenry about the agency’s policy goals, the underpinnings and purpose of its policies, the reasons for protecting some landscapes from vehicles.  Certainly, BLM can achieve better ways to manage environmentally sensitive land, and perhaps asking the citizenry for ideas would take the agency into new, good places.  Many users of federally-managed lands are actually savvy about Leave No Trace, and most others at least care, even if they do not yet know how to minimally impact an area.

BLM’s heavy hand in the supposed name of environmental quality is giving all open land a black eye.  As a result of BLM’s foolish behavior, all kinds of questions are being asked about public land, not just about how it is managed, but why it even exists.  Perhaps it is a good discussion to have, and I certainly stand on the side of having those public spaces, but so far the BLM is just pouring gasoline on the fire, which threatens to overtake all public lands.

Part of any discussion should include What Next about BLM.  The agency has clearly outlived its established purpose.  My instinctive thinking is to divide up its lands among the agencies best suited to manage each piece – National Park Service for this heavily used area, National Forest for this timbered area, and so on.  And no, conveying some of these lands to states is not a bad thing, so long as the deeds carry perpetual stipulations that the lands cannot be sold to private owners or converted to some other use.  Mining, timbering, preservation of historic artifacts, water management, passive and active recreation, scenic beauty, ecological purposes…states can do many of these as well as a federal agency, and all without having snipers in fatigues pointing guns at citizens.

If nothing else, getting rid of BLM to get rid of its ridiculous snipers and armed thug culture is a worthy step.  Not only is that insane behavior unworthy of a representative government, it is unrelated to the purpose of protecting open land in the first place.